World leaders react to the death of Ariel Sharon - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

World leaders react to the death of Ariel Sharon

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ISRAEL (AP) -- Here is a selection of reactions from world leaders and others to the death of former Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was both admired and despised for his bold style and hard-driving tactics.

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"On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the family of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and to the people of Israel on the loss of a leader who dedicated his life to the State of Israel ... We join with the Israeli people in honoring his commitment to his country." -- President Barack Obama.

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"I will never forget meeting with this big bear of a man when he became Prime Minister as he sought to bend the course of history toward peace, even as it meant testing the patience of his own longtime supporters and the limits of his own, lifelong convictions in the process. He was prepared to make tough decisions because he knew that his responsibility to his people was both to ensure their security and to give every chance to the hope that they could live in peace." -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

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"He wanted to erase the Palestinian people from the map ... He wanted to kill us, but at the end of the day, Sharon is dead and the Palestinian people are alive." -- Tawfik Tirawi, who served as Palestinian intelligence chief when Sharon was prime minister.

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"After eight years, he is going in the same direction as other tyrants and criminals whose hands were covered with Palestinian blood." -- Khalil al-Haya, a leader in the Islamic militant group Hamas

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"Ariel Sharon is one of the most significant figures in Israeli history and as Prime Minister he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace, before he was so tragically incapacitated. Israel has today lost an important leader." -- British Prime Minister David Cameron

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Ban Ki-moon "is saddened by the death of Mr. Ariel Sharon ... Sharon will be remembered for his political courage and determination to carry through with the painful and historic decision to withdraw Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip. His successor faces the difficult challenge of realizing the aspirations of peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people. -- Spokesperson for the U.N. Secretary-General.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin "highly praised Ariel Sharon's personal qualities and his activities to protect Israel's interests, noting a high respect for him among compatriots and his high authority in the international arena." -- The Kremlin.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel "is mourning with the Israeli people" for Sharon. "With his courageous decision to withdraw the Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip, he took a historic step on the path to a deal with the Palestinians and a two-state solution." -- Steffen Seibert, Merkel's spokesman.

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"His passing is another grim reminder that years of virtual impunity for rights abuses have done nothing to bring Israeli-Palestinian peace any closer." -- Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East Director of Human Rights Watch.

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